Prewar Life, Enlistment and Military Service Stateside
Typhoon Cobra and Fighting the Japanese
Surrendering of Japan and Postwar
Lee R. Broussard was born in December 1925 in Loreauville, Louisiana. His father was a construction worker and then school bus driver. Because there were only a few telephones and radios in town, Broussard found out about the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor on Monday, 8 December 1941 when he went to school. His two older brothers joined the military as soon the war started. Broussard had to wait until he turned 18. In 1943 he joined the Navy. He took the Southern Pacific train to San Diego, California for basic training at Camp Elliott. He remembered the trains being so packed with people that he stood for hours before finding a seat. He recalled transitioning to military life a little restrictive. He was shipped off on the USS Midway (CV-41) to train with the amphibs landing forces but when the Navy discovered he could type and knew shorthand, he was sent to Pacific Fleet School in Hawaii. He graduated at the top of his class, so he was assigned to Admiral Halsey's [Annotator's Note: US Navy Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey] 3rd Fleet Staff. However, since Halsey was in the South Pacific, he was sent to Admiral Nimitz's [Annotator's Note: US Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas] administration office in Hawaii for six to eight weeks before the Navy could fly Broussard to the South Pacific to join Admiral Halsey's administration. Hawaii was under Martial Law while Broussard was working for Admiral Nimitz office, so he would have to write passes for servicemen to stay out until ten in the evening. He had a permanent pass. He recalled the local population not catering to the military, but overall, those weeks felt like a vacation.
Lee R. Broussard was working for Admiral Nimitz's [Annotator's Note: US Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas] administrative office for six to eight weeks and was then sent to the South Pacific where he was assigned to the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) and was part of Admiral Halsey's [Annotator's Note: US Navy Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey] staff. He did clerical work, monitored the radio, and observed radar. Broussard recalled being on a battleship was restrictive and cramped compared to his "vacation" job in Hawaii, but he was fine. He was aboard the USS New Jersey, when they were on their way to the Philippines and ran into a huge typhoon. When it was over, he believes three destroyers from the fleet were lost to the typhoon [Annotator's Note: the destroyers USS Spence (DD-512), USS Monoghan (DD-354) and USS Hull (DD-350) foundered and sank during Typhoon Cobra on 18 December 1944]. Broussard recalled feeling like the USS New Jersey was being tossed around like a piece of driftwood during the storm. He remembered the storm lasting for three days. All the ships were damaged in some way, so the fleet went to Ulithi in the Carolina Islands. After the typhoon, Halsey and his staff were transferred to the USS Missouri (BB-63) sometime in May 1945. [Annotator's Note: The video skips around 0:15:36.000.] Broussard recalled that the fleet headed for the main islands of Japan to attack with air strikes. He witnessed Kamikazes at this point of the war. There was one time that three of the Navy carriers were hit by Kamikazes. Luckily, none of them sank but they were all damaged. Broussard recalled information coming through Halsey's office as the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa were going on, but they were not directly involved. In early August, the USS Missouri moved further out to sea, and then Broussard remembered finding out about the damage of the atomic bombs. He was in the communication room when the Japanese sent their message of surrender on 10 August 1945. Broussard recalled that Admiral Halsey did not trust the Japanese surrender and wanted to do another strike but was talked out of it by his top brass. On 28 August 1945, the USS Missouri sailed into Tokyo Bay, Japan.
Lee R. Broussard was working in Admiral Halsey's [Annotator's Note: US Navy Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey] administration on the USS Missouri (BB-63). On 28 August 1945, the ship sailed into Tokyo Bay, Japan. Broussard was standing on the Missouri when the formal surrender of Japan to the United States took place. Broussard was transferred to the USS South Dakota (BB-57) with Admiral Halsey [Annotator's Note: US Navy Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey] for about two months for the occupation of Tokyo Bay, Japan. He recalled that when he went ashore, all he saw was destruction. Broussard commented that Halsey wanted to ride the Emperor's horse, but they never could find it, so he took the Emperor's personal car back to the United States. Eventually, the USS South Dakota received orders to come to San Francisco, California so Broussard worked in the clerical offices of several other ships along the west coast until he was discharged and returned home to Louisiana. Broussard used the G.I. Bill and attended Lamar College [Annotator's Notes: now known as Lamar University] in Beaumont, Texas.
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